Zero Budget Natural Farming

What is Zero-Budget Natural Farming?

  • The creator of the ZBNF model in India is Subhash Palekar and it was first practised in Karnataka state. He recommends the four aspects of ZBNF that are: Bijamrit, Jiamrit, Mulching and Waaphasa.
  • Bijamrit is a microbial coating of seed, Jivamrit is an enhancement of soil microbes, Mulching is covering the soil with crops and Waaphasa is building of soil humus.
  • Under this farming, topsoil is covered with crop residues to increase water retention, coating of seeds with cow dung and urine.

Criticism of ZNBF:

  • ZBNF is hardly zero budget as many ingredients have to be purchased and apart from this wages of hired labour, the imputed value of family labour, imputed rent over-owned land, costs of maintaining cows and paid-out costs on electricity and pump sets are all costs that ZBNF proponents conveniently ignore.
  • There is no claims that ZNBF produces a higher yield than non- ZNBF plot as no field trials are available, unlike conventional farming output.
  • Indian soils are poor in organic matter content as 59% of soils are low in available nitrogen; about 49% are low in available phosphorus.
  • Salinity and micronutrients deficiency is there in many parts of the land.
  • Soils are toxic due to heavy metal pollution from industrial and municipal wastes or excessive application of fertilizers and pesticides.
  • All nutrients are present in adequate quantities in all types of soils though they are not in a usable form.

Scientific approach needed:

  • Necessary steps should be taken to check wind and water erosion of soils.
  • Innovative technologies should be included to minimise physical degradation of soils due to waterlogging, flooding and crusting.
  • Improve the fertility of saline, acidic, alkaline and toxic soils by reclaiming them.
  • Location-specific interventions towards balanced fertilisation and integrated nutrient management should be needed.
  • A comprehensive approach is needed to embrace a strong scientific temper.

So finally, the inclusion of Zero Based Natural Farming into our agricultural policy by the government appears unwise and imprudent.

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